New Leeds free school proposals put on hold over field objections

Plans to open a new school and expand existing places available for children in Leeds have been discussed.

PLANS: Gipton Juniors training at Fearnville Leisure Centre where the new school was proposed to be built.
PLANS: Gipton Juniors training at Fearnville Leisure Centre where the new school was proposed to be built.

Leeds City Council’s Executive Board yesterday considered three separate reports that aim to provide more school places for children in parts of the city.

The council says that by 2020, more than 300 extra year seven places will need to be created in east Leeds, to meet growing demand.

Among the plans to address the issue are proposals for a new 1,200-place secondary free school to be built in east Leeds.

Following previous meetings, the plans had identifed the Fearnville playing fields as the site to build the school.

However, the board yesterday agreed to defer further discussion on the plans until the new year.

The council said some potential new sites have been suggested, and these will be considered alongside the current options.

It came after MP Richard Burgon send an objection letter to the council, urging the authority to reconsider building on the Fearnville playing fields, and find an alternative site.

Coun Lisa Mulherin, executive member for children and families, said: “As with all our consultations we have reviewed all the responses and were due to consider the next steps at Executive Board, however in this case last minute suggestions on alternative sites have been made and it’s right to take some additional time to consider these so we can ensure the most appropriate site is identified.

“We have a statutory duty to ensure there are enough school places for children in our city, and we will need to move forward next year with a plan to deliver the places that will be needed in this part of Leeds.”

The decision to delay the report was taken shortly before the meeting began, the council said in a statement.

During yesterday’s meeting the board also discussed the outcome of a consultation to expand the number of primary school places available at Allerton Church of England Primary School, in north Leeds, from 420 pupils to 630, by September 2018.

A similar consultation over expanding primary school places at Beeston Hill St Luke’s Church of England Primary School, from 315 pupils to 420 pupils, was also discussed.

The board decided to approve the recommendations of council officers, and publish a statutory notice of each school’s proposals to increase admission numbers.